The Cinémathèque canadienne was founded in 1963 by a group of passionate filmmakers (including Jacques Giraldeau, Rock Demers and Guy Cameau) at the initiative of director Guy-L. Coté. An avid film buff and book lover, Coté realized the importance of written materials as the memory of cinema. Over his lifetime, he amassed an extensive collection that would form the basis of the Cinémathèque’s Documentation Centre, now called the Médiathèque Guy-L.-Coté.

In 1966, the Cinémathèque became a member of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), a professional network providing access to an incalculable number films and film-related materials as well as advanced expertise in the preservation, documentation, restoration and exhibition of moving images. The Cinémathèque was the only Canadian institution recognized by this prestigious association, confirming that it already had an important place on the national and international film scene.

The not-for-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding and exhibiting our audiovisual heritage changed its name to the Cinémathèque québécoise in 1971.

In 1974, the Cinémathèque opened a specially designed Conservation Centre in Boucherville to ensure optimal storage and conservation conditions for its extensive holdings of films and television programs. After almost 50 years of working to preserve this audiovisual heritage, the Cinémathèque now has an invaluable collection of over 50,000 titles on film and some 20,000 hours on tape (television or video) in its vaults.

The Cinémathèque moved its offices from McGill Street to its current quarters on de Maisonneuve Boulevard East in 1982. This strategic location and the award-winning redesign of the premises in 1996 make it an ideal venue for events and meetings of various sorts.

The Cinémathèque created two specialized galleries in 1997, Raoul-Barré Hall for permanent exhibits and Norman-McLaren Hall for temporary exhibits, thus enabling the public to see a variety of locally produced or travelling shows, often designed and created or adapted by the Cinémathèque. Highlighting the rich history of cinema, television, video and, more recently, new media, these two exhibition spaces are an essential complement to the Cinémathèque’s public screenings.

Since 2006, the Cinémathèque has played a crucial role as coordinator of the legal deposit of Quebec films, a mandate entrusted to it by Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Although the institution has experienced significant changes over the course of its history, most notably as the result of rapidly evolving technology and various issues it has had to deal with, one thing remains certain: since its inception, the Cinémathèque québécoise has been a rich repository of information and resources not just for students, teachers, researchers, journalists and audiovisual industry professionals but also for the general public. Both enshrining the past and looking to the future, it is a veritable time machine enabling visitors to discover or rediscover the little gems and great treasures in the history of moving images!



    Years 10

  • 2010
    Creation of the Prix de la Cinémathèque québécoise for the audience-favourite Canadian feature film at the Montreal World Film Festival.

    Years 00

  • 2009
    The Répertoire audiovisuel du Québec, created by the Cinémathèque in partnership with SODEC, la Régie du cinéma and l’Institut de la statistique/Observatoire de la culture et des communications du Québec, goes online.
    Creation of the Prix de la Cinémathèque québécoise pour l’Excellence en cinéma d’animation to be presented during the graduation ceremony of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema.
    Juliette Binoche tribute consisting of an exhibition of her paintings and a screening of nine of her films in the presence of the actor, who charmed the audience.
    Screening of Jacques Demy’s complete works.
    The screening of Spike Lee’s complete works, with the director in attendance, is the media event of the year.
    Complete retrospective of Raymond Depardon’s works, with the director in attendance, along with a public master class by the director.
  • 2008
    The Cinémathèque manages to eliminate the deficit accumulated over the past 10 years.
    Moses Znaimer, of Olympus Management, donates 289 historic television sets, making the Cinémathèque’s collection one of the largest in North America.
    Creation of the Grand prix Focus – Cinémathèque québécoise to support the development of a national cinema as part of the Festival du nouveau cinéma de Montréal.
    Creation of the Prix de la Cinémathèque québécoise for best Quebec/Canadian work at the RIDM.
    Denis Côté retrospective and carte blanche.
    17-film retrospective of Francis Ford Coppola’s works.
    Series Andy Warhol, homme de télé, presenting three rare television series produced and hosted by the artist.
    A new Collections department under Pierre Véronneau is created as part of a restructuring of the Cinémathèque.
    The Cinémathèque’s mission is revised to cover all forms of moving images, including new media.
  • 2007
    Gus Van Sant retrospective, with the first-ever Canadian screening of his feature film Mala Noche.
    Restoration of the film Seul ou avec d’autres by Denys Arcand (1962), Denis Héroux and Stéphane Venne, thanks to a sponsorship by Vision Globale.
    Celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Cinémathèque française with a screening of 18 films recently rediscovered, restored or acquired by the French film institution.
    Series on animator Bill Plympton, including a workshop given by the director.
  • 2006
    Inauguration of the permanent exhibition Do Not Adjust Your Set!, created by the Cinémathèque in collaboration with the MZTV Museum of Television in Toronto from the outstanding collection of historic television sets donated by TV magnate Moses Znaimer, of Olympus Management.
    End of Kevin Tierney’s six-year mandate as Chair of the Cinémathèque’s Board of Directors.
    Screening of Chantal Akerman’s complete works, in the presence of the director.
    The Cinémathèque presents the world premiere of the complete retrospective of Norman McLaren’s works.
  • 2005
    Yolande Racine is appointed as Executive Director.
    The Fondation de la Cinémathèque’s inaugural benefit gala is a great success.
    Screening of Agnès Varda’s complete works, in the presence of the director.
    Pier Paolo Pasolini retrospective as part of the 30 anniversary of his death.
    Executive Director Yolande Racine is elected to the FIAF executive committee.
    A secondary storage facility is constructed in Mirabel.
  • 2004
    Cinémathèque Chair Kevin Tierney takes over on an acting basis after departure of Executive Director Robert Boivin.
    The Cinémathèque is given the official mandate to preserve films subject to legal deposit.
    The Foundation de la Cinémathèque québécoise is established to financially support the Cinémathèque’s structuring activities.
    Salaries are cut significantly and operations scaled back to cope with a serious financial crisis at the Cinémathèque.
    Screening of Denys Arcand’s complete documentary and dramatic works following the success of his film Les Invasions barbares.
  • 2003
    The Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications announces the institution of legal deposit for films (film, video and television heritage) in its plan for implementing a film policy and indicates the Cinémathèque québécoise as the future repository for audiovisual works subject to legal deposit.
    The Cinémathèque celebrates its 40th anniversary.
    Screening of Gilles Groulx’s complete works to accompany the release of a video/DVD box set produced by the National Film Board of Canada.
    Screening of Roman Polanski’s complete works as part of the Polish Film Festival.
    The Café-Bar opens at the Cinémathèque.
  • 2002
    A lot of spectators join our journey around the film world with the great master Carl Theodor Dreyer.
    The tribute to the American/British animators Timothy and Stephen Quay, with the directors in attendance, sells out, requiring additional screenings.
    Peter Watkins is present for the screening of his latest film La Commune (Paris, 1871) and also gives a master class attended by numerous documentary film professionals. By popular demand, the film is shown several more times during the winter and spring.
    The tribute to Janette Bertrand is the event of the year in the television sector.
    Robert Daudelin retires after 30 years at the head of the Cinémathèque and is succeeded by Robert Boivin.
    The Pedro Almodóvar retrospective is one of the most outstanding events of the year, with all screenings sold out.
    The first Sommets du cinéma d’animation de Montréal, a three-day event focusing on current international animation.
  • 2001
    The tribute to Italian comedian Totò as part of the Just for Laughs Festival is a huge hit.
    From Nanook to Oumigmag (, a virtual exhibit on documentary film in Canada, wins the 2001 Boomerang Grand Prize for Arts and Culture website.
    New acquisition and conservation policies are published for each collection: cinema, television, cinema-related collections and document collections.
  • 2000
    Buster Keaton retrospective as part of the Just for Laughs Festival.
    Silent film concert Broken Blossoms at Théâtre St-Denis with Angèle Dubeau and La Pietà performing an original score by the Cinémathèque’s resident pianist, Gabriel Thibaudeau.
    Exhibition Raoul Servais: A Painter-Filmmaker’s Journey recreating the Belgian animator’s fantastical world.
    Tribute to Paul Almond, one of the first Canadian filmmakers to have started out in television, with the director in attendance.
    The exhibition Sam Lévin, photographe des stars is a critical and popular success.

    Years 90

  • 1999
    Creation of the Cinémathèque’s website.
    Forms in Motion, a permanent exhibition on the art and history of animation cinema drawn from our collections.
    First series on the Franco-German TV network ARTE.
    Le Monde de Marcel Dubé: the playwright’s work for television.
    Complete retrospective of Gilles Carle’s work: 50 films and videos made since 1961.
  • 1998
    Presentation of the exhibition Watching TV: Historic Televisions and Memorabilia from the MZTV Museum of Television.
    Exhibition Frédéric Back: A Life’s Drawings in honour of the great animator.
  • 1997
    Inauguration of the renovated and expanded Cinémathèque québécoise at 335 de Maisonneuve Boulevard East.
    North American premiere of the exhibition Magnum Cinema.
    Arrêt sur images, exhibition and film series tracing the history of cinema since 1895 in 102 films (one for each year) in honour of the centenary of cinema.
  • 1996
    Construction of the new facilities.
    Celebration of the Quebec centenary of cinema.
    Acquisition of the Cinématographe Lumière No. 16.
    Classic and contemporary film series at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
  • 1995
    Cinematheques around the world celebrate the centenary of cinema.
    Production of the exhibition Lumière sur la projection – De la lanterne magique à Imax.
  • 1994
    Presentation of a film series on Gaumont.
    Major retrospective of Mexican cinema, featuring over 100 titles from 1909 to the present.
    Exhibition Raymond Depardon : La Colline des anges.
  • 1993
    30th anniversary of the Cinémathèque.
    Laurel & Hardy retrospective as part of the Just for Laughs Festival.
  • 1992
    Official inauguration of the renovated Conservation Centre in Boucherville.
    Exhibition Montréal, ville de cinéma as part of Montreal’s 350th anniversary celebrations.
  • 1991
    The silent film concert of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis plays to a full house at Place des Arts’ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier.
  • 1990
    The collection of early film devices is moved to the new Conservation Centre in Boucherville.
    The Friday 6:30 p.m. screening is from now on devoted to silent films with musical accompaniment, with Gabriel Thibaudeau, the Cinemathèque’s resident pianist.

    Years 80

  • 1989
    The conservation vaults in Boucherville are expanded.
    Robert Daudelin is elected President of FIAF, and occupies the position until 1996.
    Creation and presentation of Profils des années 50, a travelling exhibition of photographs by Roméo Gariépy.
  • 1988
    The Cinémathèque celebrates its 25th anniversary.
    Adoption of a new graphic signature.
    First silent film concert with I Musici de Montréal: Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg’s The New Babylon.
    Exhibition Au Temps des machines à vue at the Musée de la civilisation de Québec’s Maison Chevalier.
    Rainer Werner Fassbinder retrospective: 39 films from one of the masters of modern cinema.
    Major photographic acquisitions: Bertrand Carrière collection and Daniel Kieffer collection.
  • 1986
    Les cinéastes s'exposent exhibition of paintings and drawings by filmmakers.
  • 1985
    Animation curator Louise Beaudet chairs the Annecy International Animation Film Festival jury in France.
  • 1984
    Georges Franju retrospective, with the director in attendance.
  • 1983
    Exhibition Le cinéma et ses appareils in Trois-Rivières (Ciné-Campus).
  • 1982
    The “Maison du cinéma” is inaugurated with a week of festivities for all film industry professionals.
    The Cinémathèque collaborates on the exhibition The Art of Animated Film at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
  • 1981
    The Cinémathèque creates the “Maison du cinéma” at 335 de Maisonneuve Boulevard East.
    The Documentation Centre becomes an official part of the Cinémathèque’s functions.
    Marguerite Duras retrospective, in the presence of the author/director.
  • 1980
    Quebec cinema retrospective at the Cinémathèque française: 48 screenings at the Palais de Chaillot and Beaubourg.

    Years 70

  • 1979
    The Cinémathèque’s Director, Robert Daudelin, is elected Secretary General of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF).
    Launch of the first issue of the film magazine Copie Zéro.
  • 1978
    Signature of a framework agreement with the Quebec government recognizing the Cinémathèque’s mandate.
    First issues of Les dossiers de la Cinémathèque.
  • 1977
    Arthur Penn retrospective, with the director in attendance.
  • 1976
    North American premiere of How Yukong Moved the Mountains, in the presence of Joris Ivens and Marceline Loridan.
  • 1975
    Volker Schlöndorff retrospective, with the director in attendance.
    TV retrospective (This Hour Has Seven Days).
  • 1974
    The first conservation vaults are built in Boucherville.
  • 1973
    An experimental cinematheque on videocassette project is conducted with Le Vidéographe.
  • 1972
    The Cinémathèque offices move to 360 McGill Street.
    Robert Daudelin is appointed as Director and curator.
    The Cinémathèque organizes the Canadian Cinema Fortnight in Amsterdam.
  • 1971
    The Cinémathèque canadienne changes its name to Cinémathèque québécoise.
    Weekly screenings are held in Quebec City (Laval) and Trois-Rivières (Ciné-Campus).
  • 1970
    A series of 10 classes on “Le Québec d'aujourd'hui raconté par des cinéastes québécois” is given in cooperation with the Cinémathèque by the adult education department of the Commission des écoles catholiques de Montréal (now the Commission scolaire de Montréal).

    Years 60

  • 1969
    Public screenings move to the Bibliothèque nationale, 1700 St-Denis Street.
    Acquisition of the Guy L. Côté collection, which will form the basis of the Cinémathèque’s Documentation Centre, one of the largest film reference libraries in America.
  • 1968
    Publication of the bilingual periodical Nouveau cinéma canadien/New Canadian Film.
  • 1967
    Publication of English and French editions of How to Make or Not to Make a Canadian Film.
    International animation retrospective as part of the Montreal International Film Festival.
  • 1966
    First downtown address: 3685 Jeanne-Mance.
  • 1965
    Norman McLaren exhibition.
    First full season of 250 public screenings in the Bureau of Censorship auditorium, 360 McGill Street in Old Montreal.
  • 1964
    Erich von Stroheim exhibition as part of the Montreal International Film Festival.
  • 1963
    Jean Renoir week at Cinéma Élysée, in the presence of Henri Langlois, curator at the Cinémathèque française.